(Updated Oct. 1, 2021) We have two funded graduate positions available! The two position descriptions are listed below.
Position 1: Environmental Social Science Graduate Student Position – Groundwater and Agriculture Decision-Making We are seeking a PhD student or M.S. student to conduct social science research with an interdisciplinary teamstudying how farmers, water managers, and scientists understand and use groundwater models to support water use decisions. This graduate assistantship will provide salary support for up to three years through research assistantship funding from USDA, with additional funding for a PhD studentthroughtwo years of teaching assistantship, as well as all tuition, fees, and healthcare. The social science graduate student will be advised by Dr. Chloe Wardropper at University of Idaho and work in close collaboration with the two co-Investigators, Dr. Adam Zwickle at Michigan State University and Dr. Sam Zipper at University of Kansas and Kansas Geological Survey and a hydrology-focused graduate student at KU.
Project overview: Agricultural regions with connected groundwater-surface water resources provide crucial ecosystem services including irrigation for agricultural production and streamflow benefiting recreation and habitat for fish and wildlife. Ecosystem models, which provide decision-support systems (DSS) for policy and management, are often developed to inform management in these basins. However, little is known about how and to what extent DSS influence decision-making to sustain ecosystem services in these managed agroecosystems. In this project, we will connect refined models of groundwater-surface water ecosystem services with research on how people make decisions regarding natural resource management to address fundamental gaps between foundational and applied science. Our case study region in Kansas has streams affected by groundwater withdrawals and extensive irrigated row crop agriculture, providing the context to better understand the connection between ecosystem health and sustainability. Our research objectives and methods are: (1) Model ecosystem service outcomes under different management and climate scenarios to better understand the response of ecosystem services to local and global change; (2) Describe and compare the mental models (conceptual representations of an object or tool) of DSS creators and users through sociological interviews; (3) Develop a framework linking mental models to DSS processes and outputs, which will inform dissemination of best practices for DSS creators. The team will also conduct exploratory research in other states to support parallel and future inquiry, including Michigan and Idaho.
The social science student will help conduct applied research to understand and compare mental models of DSS creators and users under different scenarios of groundwater use and environmental conditions. The student will also help disseminate findings through workshops with environmental modelers and (if interested) help with grant-writing for continued support of the project, with mentorship of the project team.
University of Idaho:The student will be based in the University of Idaho’s Department of Natural Resources and Society and can enroll in one of several graduate programs--Natural Resources,Water Resources, or Environmental Science.The university is in the Palouse Region, at the edge of the Rockies, which also includes Washington State University (located 8 miles from Moscow, in Pullman, WA) and a large and welcoming community of graduate students across a variety of relevant natural and social science disciplines. Moscow is a vibrant college town, including a bustling main street and excellent walking and biking, nearby outdoor recreation (mountain biking, hiking, and more), and rent is quite affordable (monthly rents for apartments near campus are ~$650).The student will also spend time in and around Lawrence and Wichita, Kansas and receive travel support to at least oneacademic conference.
Required qualifications include a Bachelor’sdegree in natural resource or environmental management, sociology, geography, or related fields by summer 2022, high-level written and spoken English, and valid driver’s license (or willingness to obtain one). Desired qualifications include aMaster’s degree in a field listed above. Note that we prefer a PhD student for this project, but are open to a motivatedMaster’sstudent.The ideal student will have some previous research experience,good theoretical understanding of the social components (risk and decision-making, social studies of science, farming systems) and/or the ecological components of the project (groundwater and surface water systems)and be keenly interested in engaging in interdisciplinary research. Importantly, the student should have a strong spirit of curiosity and demonstrated ability to work well as part of a team.
To apply for this position, please send a single pdf attachment (file name formatted as lastname_firstname_groundwater_date.pdf) to email@example.com, containing (1) a cover letter indicating reasons for desiring this position,and whether you wish to pursue a Master’s or PhD, past experiences relevant to the position including academic training, research experience, and experience working with teams; (2) CV; (3) copies of undergraduate (& graduate) transcripts (unofficial is ok); (4) a recent sample of your technical writing; and (5) contact information for three references. Please use the subject header “Groundwater-Agriculture graduate application”. The student will commence graduate studies in September 2022 and ideally start field work in summer 2022. Review of applications will begin October 20th and continue until a suitable candidate is chosen.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Position 2: (Reviewing applications as of Oct. 1) PhD Position: Integrated social-environmental ranching-wildlife systems project We are seeking a PhD student to conduct research focused on how wolves, wild and domesticated ungulates, and drought impact the coupled human-wildlife system in Western US rangelands, focusing on study areas in Oregon and Idaho. This 5-year NSF-funded project will fully support the PhD student, including salary support through 3 years of research assistantship and 2 years of teaching assistantship, as well as all tuition, fees, and healthcare. Project overview: Multiple stressors are impacting ecosystems shared by wildlife and humans worldwide, threatening human livelihoods and wildlife biodiversity, and limiting our ability to predict future system states under global change. Climate change can strongly interact with other sources of change, such as recolonizing large carnivores, to alter food web dynamics and potentially reduce ecosystem provisioning for humans while increasing stress on human decision-makers. A critical gap exists in our knowledge of how climate affects human-wildlife systems via wild food webs, and how natural resource decision-makers respond to the stress. We hypothesize that multiple environmental stressors (e.g., climate change and novel predators) will have complex and interactive effects on human-wildlife systems via trophic interactions among predators, prey, livestock, and plants within shared food webs, potentially reducing the provisioning of humans from the shared ecosystem and human tolerance for predatory and competitive wildlife, and increasing uncertainty for natural resource decision-makers. There is a pressing need to advance models, tools and theory to 1) understand how multiple stressors interactively affect food webs in which humans and domestic animals are embedded, and 2) identify and quantify feedbacks among natural resource decision-makers and human-wildlife systems in response to multiple environmental stressors, including identifying potential “tipping points” in system resiliency. Using a factorial design of study sites across combinations of wolf presence and drought in Oregon and Idaho, we will mechanistically study rancher-wildlife-plant dynamics. Data will stem from rancher surveys, wildlife camera grids, and ground-surveyed and remotely-sensed plant data. We will integrate social and ecological data into a structural equation modeling framework, which will drive ecological forecasts of predation and competition risk to livestock we will provide to ranchers and managers. To understand natural resource manager decisions, which occur at larger spatial scales than rancher decisions, we will conduct a broad-scale analysis of the rangeland SES across the Western US using publicly-available wildlife and social data and remotely-sensed environmental characteristics. By analyzing decision-making across these spatial scales, we anticipate being able to identify key feedbacks, emergent phenomena, and potential tipping points in resilience for the human and wildlife components of the rangeland SES. The interdisciplinary PhD student will help answer questions related to: 1) how the rangeland foodweb responds to drought and wolf activity; 2) how human decision-makers perceive and respond to drought, wolves, and other rangeland and socio-economic variables; and 3) dynamics of this integrated system, via socio-ecological modeling. The PhD student will also help develop ecological forecasting tools based on integrated socio-ecological models, with the help and mentorship of the project team and strong computing support from the University of Idaho’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Data Sciences (https://www.iids.uidaho.edu ). The project team: The PhD student will be supervised by Dr. Sophie Gilbert (www.gilbertresearch.org) in the Department of Fish & Wildlife Sciences, and Dr. Chloe Wardropper (https://chloewardropper.weebly.com/) in the Department of Natural Resources and Society, both at the University of Idaho, located in beautiful Moscow, Idaho. The student will be working within a broader team, including personnel, faculty, and postdoctoral researchers from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Idaho. The PhD student is expected to work collaboratively and to engage productively with all team members, as well as to supervise summer technicians from the University of Idaho.
The student will join a rich research community, including faculty at both the University of Idaho and Washington State University (located 8 miles from Moscow, in Pullman, WA), and a large and welcoming community of graduate students across a variety of relevant natural and social science disciplines. Moscow is located in the Idaho panhandle, at the edge of the Rocky Mountain Foothills and the beautiful Palouse hills. It is a vibrant college town, including a bustling main street and excellent walking and biking, nearby outdoor recreation (mountain biking, hiking, and more), and rent is quite affordable (monthly rents for apartments near campus are ~$650). Required qualifications include a Master’s degree in ecology, wildlife biology, natural resource management, sociology, geography, or related fields by summer 2022, proficiency in English, and valid driver’s license (or willingness to obtain one). Applicants should also be proficient in quantitative data analysis. Desired qualifications include a good theoretical understanding of either the ecological components of the project (community and predator-prey ecology), or the social components (risk and decision-making, ranching systems). The ideal student will be keenly interested in understanding coupled natural-human systems and engaging in interdisciplinary work. Importantly, the student should have a strong spirit of curiosity/inquiry, and the demonstrated ability to work well as part of a team in a rural environment. Desirable experience also includes expertise with fieldwork in remote settings, ecological data analysis including experience or willingness to learn program R, and social science survey methodologies, but due to the interdisciplinary nature of the position, expertise in all of these areas is not expected. To apply for this position, please send a single pdf attachment (file name formatted as lastname_firstname_date.pdf) to BOTH firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, containing (1) a cover letter indicating reasons for desiring this position, past experiences relevant to the position including academic training, field experience, and experience with teams and stakeholders/the public; (2) CV; (3) copies of undergraduate & graduate transcripts (unofficial is ok); (4) a recent sample of your technical writing; and (5) contact information for three references. Please use the subject header “Wildlife-Ranching PhD application”. The student will commence graduate studies in September 2022 and ideally start field work in June 2022. Review of applications will begin October 1st and continue until a suitable candidate is chosen.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ General information for prospective graduate student advisees: I accept applications for MS and PhD students on an ongoing basis.
I advise graduate students across several MS and PhD programs at the U of I: Natural Resources, Environmental Science, or Water Resources. Teaching assistantships are available in the PhD in the Department of Natural Resources and Society or the Environmental Science Program. Research Assistantships are sometimes available, pending funding.